From January 9 next year, any driver who breaks traffic laws will face not only legal punishment but will also get his or her points deducted. And if their points drop to zero, their driving license will be suspended for up to 90 days.
National Police Commissioner General Damrongsak Kittiprapas explained that the point-deduction system is designed to promote safe driving. Every year, road casualties claim more than 22,000 lives in Thailand, which has the ninth-highest rate of traffic accidents in the world.
Drive safely or lose points
All driving license holders will start with 12 points each, Highway Police Division commander Pol Maj-General Ekkarat Limsangkat said. However, these points will be points deducted whenever they are caught committing a traffic offense.
“For minor offences, we will deduct one point. For serious offences, we will deduct four points,” Ekkarat said.
Speeding, failing to stop for pedestrians at a zebra crossing, talking on the phone while behind the wheel, or driving a vehicle with no license plate will cost the driver one point.
Two points will be deducted if they are caught jumping a red light, driving against the prescribed traffic direction, or driving while their license is confiscated or suspended.
The three-point deduction is reserved for illegal road racing, while the highest penalty of a four-point deduction will occur in serious offences like drunk driving.
How to increase your points
All points deducted will be credited back to drivers’ accounts after one year. But if their points drop so low that they risk a 90-day license suspension, drivers can take a course on traffic laws and safe driving in a bid to boost their score.
“If drivers take a course with the Land Transport Department [LTD], they may get some points restored before the year ends,” Ekkarat explained.
When the new driving-point system goes into effect, drivers will be able to check their score on https://ptm.police.go.th/eTicket or the Paotang application.
“Police and the LTD systems will be linked to ensure smooth implementation,” Ekkarat added.
Fine, jail term
Ekkarat said the introduction of the points-deduction system did not mean that those who break traffic laws will be spared a fine or jail time.
“As well as losing points, they will also be liable to legal action,” he said.
For example, if someone is caught driving while his/her license is confiscated or suspended, apart from getting their points deducted, they will also face a jail term of up to three months and/or a fine of Bt10,000 under the Traffic Law Act.
Confiscated, suspended driving license
A confiscated driving license is different from a suspended driving license. Traffic police are empowered to order the seizure of a driving license if its holder is at risk of driving dangerously – for example, because they are too tired, sleepy, or emotional.
“When drivers are deemed to have recovered enough to drive properly, their driving license will be returned,” Ekkarat said.
He added that a driver, for example, may be flagged down by police and have his driving license confiscated if he cuts in front of other vehicles out of stress or perhaps a big fight with his sweetheart.
“This measure is intended to prevent dangerous driving that threatens not just the driver but also others.”
If drivers are caught driving dangerously because of a health issue, traffic police officers may send them to the hospital and inform their relatives.
The order to suspend a driving license can only be given by a police region commissioner or the Central Investigation Bureau. The driving license will be suspended for 90 days from the time of the order.
Overhaul of driving-license system
Titipat Thaijongrak, director of the Land Transport Safety Bureau, said Thailand is improving its driving-license system to reflect the fact that drivers are a key factor in road safety.
“Our upgraded system focuses on fostering conscientiousness, discipline, and road-safety awareness,” he said. “Our training and tests now also cover accident prediction and risk analysis to improve accident prevention.”
By Thai PBS World